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Orlando City focuses on fitness during scrimmage against Chicago Fire

Orlando City’s preseason training scrimmage against the Chicago Fire in Orlando City Stadium provided some insight into who could take the field on March 3 for the club’s season opener against D.C. United. 

For the 15 minutes of the scrimmage open to the media, Orlando City’s lineup consisted of Justin Meram and Stefano Pinho up top; Yoshimar Yotún (left), Cam Lindley (defensive mid), Chris Mueller (attacking mid) and Will Johnson (right) in the midfield; and a back line of right back RJ Allen, center backs Jonathan Spector and Amro Tarek, and left back Mohammed El-Munir.

Joe Bendik was the goalkeeper.

Obviously, some players were missing from that lineup and Orlando City’s XI will look different as the regular season goes on, especially as more of the team’s new acquisitions catch up in terms of fitness.   

Coach Jason Kreis said all players are being “seriously considered to see playing time.”

Striker Dom Dwyer is out with a quad injury that’ll cause him to miss the season opener. Attacking midfielder Sacha Klejestan will miss the first two games of the regular season while serving a suspension for a halftime incident between Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls, Kjestan’s team in 2017.  

Tarek was eventually subbed off for Donny Toia (who typically plays at left back). Tarek said the substitution wasn’t for anything serious – he was just ensuring he’d be ready to go for the team’s season opener.

Yotún was sent off after getting into a quick scrum with Chicago Fire center back Christian Dean. The two had to be separated and Orlando City finished the scrimmage with 10 men.

Mueller scored yet another preseason goal. His right-footed blast from near the top of the penalty area was his fifth goal in four preseason training scrimmages.

“Obviously the biggest objective when you get to this point in preseason is to get to 90 minutes for the players so that they feel like next week they go in and they know they can play 90 minutes consecutively,” Kreis said after the scrimmage.

“So we built to a good place, from a fitness standpoint. I think the guys feel great. The other thing is you want to get out of this with no injuries. I think we accomplished that. Still, with the play, a lot of really positive things.”

Like Orlando City’s other preseason scrimmages, no official score was kept. Orlando City finished the exercise with two goals (PK – Yotun, Mueller) compared to three from the Fire.

“A couple of negative things, of course,” Kreis said. “That’s the other thing that happens in a very long preseason. You get to this moment and the guys are kind of fatigued and tired of preseason and they’re ready to get to the real stuff.”

Kreis added the team will play an additional scrimmage against Nashville SC. That scrimmage will be with “a whole different group of players,” Kreis said. It’ll also be completely closed with no media access.

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